Thursday, March 02, 2017

Buy Nothing Year Project.

As a goal for myself, I have decided to try and buy nothing this year, starting Feb 1 2017 and finishing Feb 1 2018.

I have these fond memories of being able to move around with only a few bins of personal FX, basically some clothes, climbing gear and the kitchen basics. Obviously this has changed a lot and although I have mixed emotions about the accumulation of things since then, I feel mainly happy with the collections of books, skis, kitchen equipment etc as it adds a quality of life factor that we enjoy daily.

However this year the accumulation of unneeded things started to weigh on me, I felt like I would make purchases that could be justified easily with one mind set and then with another perspective, be deemed completely unjustified - This concerned me. An example would be new bath towels for guests when they stay with us, we have a lot of guests and this would be a nice feature for them but does it really matter? I am sure they would be just fine with our our older and totally usable but not quite as nice towels and it is 100.00 saved and put towards things that actually make me happy (ie; traveling, trying new food, experiences and learning)...for some this is an easy decision and for some, not so easy.. depending on what is important to you personally and we want our guests to be comfortable and stoked on returning.  The other thing is that I have observed a disturbing spike in happiness in myself after purchasing things, which I think is cool if its a bike or some sweet new skis but for tupperwear and bath towels? I needed to think about, digest it and come up with some guide lines for purchasing, starting off with this, the base level, the buy nothing year. Hopefully writing this down will keep me on track.

My goal is this:

-Buy nothing that isn't absolutely needed. No new bikes, skis, ski/bike/climbing gear, consumer electronics, kitchen gadgets, clothing, even the most basic and seemingly cheap household or otherwise item, etc etc. Everything I use for my sports is in fine working order at present.

- Repair, replacement and maintenance is allowed. Ie: if a stove or fridge needs repair or a bike needs new tires that's all good.  A new fork or Cromag handlebar 'just cause' isn't allowed.

- One in, One out. If something is bought, it means that the last option was exhausted and needs to be recycled or binned. If I do want something new 'just cause', I must sell the item its replacing and use only that and money from other sold items for the new purchase.

- Simplify clothing to 30 items of tops and bottoms. Donate everything else. I want to love and enjoy each piece so it is then harder to buy new stuff and I am more likely to repair the cherished items rather then replace. if something is done its a loss and the replacement needs to be scrutinized over.

-Food isn't part of the project, we will continue to spend copious amounts on food.

-Beer and Wine- 1 bottle or six pack a week (I love a nice beer/wine)

- I want to funnel this saved money into my investments and other high value enterprises like Erin's flower business. A nice goal is to be able to work less as we get older, I understand that retirement likely isn't in my cards BUT working a much smaller work week is so the more I can save the quicker that can happen. Ultimately, time is the most important asset.

I will update regularly. March 1 today and no purchases at all for the Month of Feb and a considerable savings on account of.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The first days...

There is something very exciting about the first days out of the new ski season. Often I can't sleep the night before, tossing and turning, heart rate going full-hectic as I roll over the hundredth time, thinking about the day ahead. Here are a few shots of the highlights so far...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting ready to shred: 2016 version

Every Autumn I go through the same process of getting ready for the upcoming ski season. Winter is my favourite time of all and I don't want to miss a day of action if I can help it. Here are a few of the things I have come to rely on as a backbone to prepping for another round of powder, peaks and everything else. 

Thoughts on training

I don't have a scientific approach to training,  I have one general rule: Try and do something active everyday. Some days that is a one hour climbing gym session or a 5 km run and others its 15 km and/or a good bike ride or long gym session. In the fall I tend to taper my biking and start running to activate the stabilizer muscles that you use skiing. I have circuits that involve uphill sections and I set personal goals like trying to actually run up them instead of fast-walk, then I can see progress. I try not to sprint but maintain a similar aerobic rate as if I was skinning uphill at a good pace. The odd day I will do stairs or hill sprints but its rare. On the descents I try and focus on foot placements and being mindful of the connection between foot and ground. Near November I want to be running 15-20km without much pain or trouble which usually takes me about 2 months to arrive at. In the climbing gym I will focus on just having fun and climbing lots. 

More then anything in the fall, I try to rest my mind and body for the upcoming season as it is by far the most physical time of year for me, hopefully stacking many big days on top of each other week after week. Sounds nice! These runs and gym sessions are never more then 2 hours so that gives me lots of time for fall house tasks, working, organizing gear and spending time with Erin. 

The Gear Room 

The gear room is cleaned, switched over from biking and climbing and into winter mode. Everything can be grabbed quickly for a last minute outing. The Hooks on the wall left empty so I can quickly hang and sort wet gear after a day out. There is another row of hooks below the photo edge for packs and more organizing. To the right of the hooks on the wall is a 3 shelf unit for tupperwares full of gloves and hats and other crucial pieces. I like to present myself with 0 barriers to a day out so the better I can prepare ahead, the more likely I can swing a ski tour, even if its 4 hours before work starts at 0900.

The Typical Day Out Kit
Top Row: Lunch Bag, Licorice (always with me in the mountains! he only candy I don't binge on!), water, thermos and Insulated cup for really cold or storm days (Its pretty dreamy to pull out the steamy chilli or soup at the windy col!)
Emerg Kit: More on this later.
Radio: I'll bring sometimes if there is a repeater nearby or if its a large group so we can spread the weight out, nice if you need to communicate with a rescue team and helicopter. These are not easily available unfortunately.
Gloves: Big warm pair and lightweight pair (often two light pairs). I really like XC skiing gloves as they are cheap, have no leather (which stays wet all day) and are made for high output, perfect for the up track.
 Sun glasses, Buff, Sun hat and extra toque. 
Goggles: I really like the Julbo low light polarized lens, these are not cheap but man they are the best I've ever tried.
 Petzl Bag: Odds and ends, more on this later.
Crystal Screen: For cleaning skis and bindings from ice and doing the odd form identification.
Camera: This is a Canon G15, I like these bomber cameras, they are good in low light and take a beating. That's a waterproof Inate case.
Shovel: I like a big blade as I have felt the difference it makes in moving snow in many practice scenarios. I use the lighter 'G3 Spade' handle to save weight.
Avalanche Beacon: Ortovox 3+, I like the simplicity and functionality for multiple burial. All Beacons are good these days, practice is everything.
Probe: BD 265cm Alum. Good but there are arguments for a longer option certainly.
Pack: Modified Patagonia ascentionist, more on this later.
Helmet: Solomon Mtn Lab. I made a commitment to wear a helmet all last year and I am totally used to it now, its great and would likely make a difference in a really bad tumble or small avalanche sweeping me trough the trees.
 Rad Kit: More on this later.
Puffy: Patagonia Nano Storm. I use this 90% of the time, its waterproof and a long cut so offers great protection, allowing me to often skimp on other shells, knowing I have it. If its -15 or colder I bring the DAS parka, which is a freaking INFERNO.          

The Pack

I come from a climbing background so my bias is towards light and streamlined packs which are favoured by climbers, I am also just very attracted to these designs aesthetically. This is Patagonias lightest most technical climbing pack. It weights under a kilo yet has everything you would ever need. I removed the hip pads as all I have ever needed in the mountains is a webbing belt. The frame is taken out and replaced with a folded piece of 5mm evazote which contours and forms to my back better then any frame. This means packing needs to be done with a little more care but I am used to it and its very comfy

I asked a designer friend here in Squamish to add a simple compartment to the inside of the pack tube, near the back. it has 2 tubes and a big pod for the shovel blade. I really like it.      

The "Odds and Ends" Bag

This lives in the top of my pack and keeps the must haves separate from anything else in here. If this falls out in the snow, I can easily see it. Keys go in here too. Sun screen, skin wax, knife, headlamp with fresh batteries and ski strap. This little ski strap is very useful for repairs and medical scenarios.    

The "Emerg" Bag

The Emerg Kit: Its probably a good idea to carry a little insurance in case shit hits the fan, this is what I have narrowed it down to after some thought and unfortunate learning experiences. 
Spot and Padded Case: This thing has saved the day once and I carry it on every outing now. I cant imagine how the outcome would have been if we wouldn't have had it. 
Spare Beacon Battery: Wrapped in duck tape. I wrap a lot of these little things in tape as you never have enough when you actually need it. 
AMK Bivi Bag: Waterproof. 
Lighter: For making fire in case of a forced bivi. 
Water Purifier Tabs: These weigh nothing and for me are worth keeping on hand for peace of mind in case we come across open water and need a drink. Probably over kill. 
FA Kit: This thing is focused on major wounds (ski edges, branch impalements, head wounds) so lots of gauze and dressings, about 2 x as much as a standard kit. Tape and moleskin for blisters. Meds are 4oomg IBUPROFEN and T3 as well a s Benadryl.  All of this fits in a waterproof bag which is nice for the S Coast.

The RAD Kit

  I bring this on every tour now, leaving the screw behind for days without glacier travel. I use it sans screw for controlled on belay ski cuts. This technique has taught me more about ski cutting, snow and avalanches then anything else and turns potential day ending decisions into learning experiences while being safe. It then converts to a glacier kit when adding the screw. 

Rope: 30M 6mm Petzl RAD Kit. While not cheap, this rope is a 'game changer', it is super light and very strong, certified for use as a single line, unheard of for this weight and size.  Altitude Harness: The lightest harness in the world and actually comfy. 
Micro traction: I like to have this when you actually need to use this stuff in a crevasse rescue situation. 
Tibloc, biners, mini Prussia and 120 cm sling: With this I can make an anchor and turn a 3:1 into a 5:1. 
Screw: Petzl Laser Speed Light, the lightest in the world. 13cm is fine as if I use it, it will be in blue glacier ice and I'll be wanting to expedite the placement. This all fits neatly into a med size G3 skin bag.  

The Glacier and Steeps Kit

Petzl has brought out the lightest and most compact ski mountaineering kit to date: Leopard Crampons: Aluminum and very packable Glacier Literide Axe: I added the grip rest as I really dislike leashes, save those for my dreams :-)

The crampons are very secure once attached and I can pack them away very small and out of the way. Combine this with the RAD and I can get into all kinds of nasty situations.   


I like to outline and figure out my clothing set ups in the early fall so there is less shenanigans when its time to go. I break mine into two different set ups, the 'mission' or spring set-up which is aimed towards big days, usually with lots of KMs and vertical and likely with good weather. The second kit is for mid-winter pow skiing or day to day wear all season long when the weather is bad. This kit fails when under big aerobic asks but is excellent for typical lower cadence days in the winter. Both kits or subsidized by a big puffy of course, its a real bummer when you don't have one and don't want to enjoy your sweet turkey sandwich and peanut butter cookie cause you cant feel your face. There is so much inovation happening in clothing right now, especially around active insulation, that in which you can truly be aerobic in and I think will completely changing the layering paradigm, pretty exciting.

Day To Day Set Up:
This Kit focuses on daily driver type of days in the Spearheads, Duffey Lake environs and the mountains around Squamish where I live. This kit emphasizes protection from wet snow and is warm and more windproof so conversely, less breathable. I am OK with this trade off for the upswing in protection from the big pacific storms that hammer us on a typical cold mid-winter day out. 

Jacket: Patagonia weather resistant softshell (proto), supposed to be near waterproof but very breathable. Will supplement with a waterproof shell some days I am sure. 
Pants: Patagonia Refugative, the best I have ever had for a hard shell using GORE C-Knit 4 way stretch fabric. Side vents for big time heat dumping. 
Base Layer: Patagonia Merino Air, I have yet to find a merino system that doesn't completely disappoint me as the stuff absorbs over 70% of its own weight in water and basically does not wick, but abosrbs.
However, this stuff is blended with 50% poly and has a very open and breathable knit. I am stoked to try it.   

Another Option with Refugative jacket and Nano Air vest for cold and storm days with maybe a bit of rain down low.

Spring Mission or 'Big Day' set-up:

All Softshell: For me, nothing works better then clothing with high CFM breathabilty ratings for high output. Again, XC skiers have been wearing this stuff forever and even in inclement weather, it keeps you warm and comfortable unless its really hectic out. 

Jacket: Patagonia Houdini, this is the best jacket I own. It fits in my pocket, is basically wind proof and is super light. 
Pants: Patagonia prototype, these are great and made out of one of my favourite fabrics patagonia has ever used, that of the levitation line of jackets. Great durability and wind resistance but also water resistance and breathabilty. 
Vest: Patagonia Nano Air Vest, breathable insulation is very cool and I can leave this on for way longer then a lot of other insulations i've tried. This thing comes with me 99% of days. 
Hoody: Capilene Thermal Weight, the warmest but still very breathable. My go to desert island piece. The hood can replace a toque for surgical alpine strikes or just a second back up toque for peace of mind.    

Spring Suppliment: For Spring when its extremely hot and sunny, I have stumbled uptown these hoodies designed for fly fishing. They are really breathable and have 40 + UPF, the hood covers your ears and nose as well and allows you to wear less sun screen as I always end up with a big splotch of it that stays there all day somewhere awkward. I can wear this next to skin and survive the epic heat and insolation of the spring.
That's it, hopefully this allows someone to learn from the many mistakes I have made and consequently learned from! Always good to have things sorted out before the season takes hold, happy preparing!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mt. Sifton to Hermit Mountain Traverse, Rogers Pass

Recently, Julian and I had a chance to meet up at Rogers Pass for a stellar day of alpine climbing and scrambling. With both of us being on the road for work, it took a little more planning and motivation to make this day come to reality and with last minute route changes due to travel restrictions on account of grizzly bears, said planning was also not without shenanigans. Nevertheless, by 4pm I was finished my appointments for the day and with a 12 pack of beer, a pile of potato chips, a huge recovery dinner and snacks and more snacks, I was rolling into Loop Brook campsite for very solid and appreciated chill and route research session while Julian made his way over from Nakusp, arriving a couple hours later.

After the always enjoyable catch up and road warrior note trading over a few beers and chips, we retired with the intentions of a 3am wake up call, quick breakfast and of course the promise, nervousness and excitement of a day ahead that may or may not be more of a bite then we are willing to chew.

We made quick progress to the alpine and walked past the sleeping campers at the hermit meadows campground in the early dawn light. The route-finding to the Sifton/Grizzly col was straightforward and enjoyable, working around ledges and meadows to the toe of a small pocket glacier and later, the col.

Sifton is a big 3rd class peak on both of the E and W ridges that we traveled, the former being the descent and quite a bit longer then the W, it took time to sort out in a couple of spots but was more or less easy sailing.

Moving up and over Rogers was similar in many ways to Sifton, although slightly bigger, more complex near the summit and one needing to work around snow (we wore approach shoes) a little more.

This face beckons in a different season.
Gaining the Swiss Peaks was one of the cruxes for us, not having mountain boots, we gingerly moved from the steepening glacier to the foot of the rock and made some easy 5th moves to gain the first and later summits, which were all quite easy, albeit with nifty exposure in spots.

Getting off of Truda (last Swiss peak) required a couple of raps but soon we were looking up at Hermit, the last of the day.

We encountered excellent rock and position on the W ridge of Hermit, we both agreed that this was our favorite part of the day. Just awesome.
Another beckoning face. Having these immense N aspects really provides some cool ambience to the trip.

Working our way down the SE ridge of Hermit required a couple of easy raps and some down climbing but soon enough we were on the glacier and watching the sun set over the western peaks.

All in all it took us roughly 16 hours car to car for this day, we felt we moved steadily throughout and took few breaks apart from the standard sock change and chill before the descent to the valley. We chose to rappel where others would surely down climb and I am positive that a 'running' approach to doing this route would cut a lot of time off the day. Still we were happy.

Interestingly, I had it in my mind all day that our plan included Tupper as well. Having the plans change we had not discussed this in detail and during the end of the day I started to prod JuJu with the idea of skipping Tupper. Finally, it came out that he had no intention of doing Tupper this trip and the idea that had been stewing in my mind was purely a figment of my imagination.

We made our way to camp, got a fire going and pigged out on some pasta with sausage and red pepper, our chilled beers that were in the creek nearby and some awesome cookies. The next day we both set off on our work tours again, a little stiff and sore maybe but with that feeling of lightness and contentment that comes from a good long day in the mountains.

Thanks to Julian for the great trip,  good nature and for always being keen on these types of memory forging days.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mt. Habrich, Sky Pilot and Co Pilot link-up AKA the Sea To Sky Gondola Triple Crown

I got to spend an entire day in the mountains on Friday and it was grand. After working a lot lately and spending last weekend helping Erin with her flower stand at the farmers market and Ryan roof his house in between the monsoons, I was ravenous for a nice big day in the mountains. Luckily, I knew just what to do - wake up in the wee hours, fuel up with a couple of Howes blend espressos and head out on a journey up to the sea to sky alpine country that's been on my mind a while. This was the one day of decent weather all week so I exercised the 'let my people go surfing' philosophy and took the day off!
With the gondola opening at 10am! (seriously, we want early starts people!), a from the road approach was needed. I bolted awake at 330 because I could barely sleep anyway and busted up a strange hybrid of the S2S and Evac trails which worked well and I was at the top station by just after 5.

The sun was coming up now and the mountains started to wake up with splashes of orange, azure and chrome.

I hadn't been up the NW side of Mt. Habrich before but I had the benefit of an examination of it while on rappel after climbing another route on the S face previous. I approached it with an open mind and didn't encounter any trouble on the way to the summit, my preference was for bomber rock over vertical bushwhacking so I think I did a hybrid of the Colin Haley expressway and the route escape velocity, with a move or two of easy 5th class here and there to surmount the walls between ledges. Was at the summit 3hr and 15m after leaving the car. Habrichs summit is a real climbers summit and is pointy and windy, pretty damn cool.

The SE face, originally I wanted to go up this way and do the traverse in the opposite direction but I have heard enough reports of the climbing on the side being harder for a solo trip that I opted for the familiar terrain instead. You can see 'the brain', which is the local name for the dome shaped feature in photo left which has caused routefinding issues for folks in the past. There are fixed lines down a gulley/bench system skiers left now and its a piece of cake.

A lot of work has been done on the 'Skyline Trail' by locals I am guessing. There is good trail and/or cairns starting underneath the S Face of Habrich and going all the way to Sky Pilot where it branches low to get to the upper reaches of the Shannon Creek trail or you can go up, off trail to get to the upper stadium glacier.

Gunsight Gap, no trail here but easy going.

Super cool and moody ambience .

Looking back at the ridge, got to be a top 5 hike for me in itself, without all the nifty summits. You can hike this whole thing (skyline Trail) without any scrambling if you don't do the summits.

The July 15/2016 state of the Stadium Glacier. I had approach shoes and a ski pole and that was all I needed.

Summit of Sky Pilot, about 6 hrs and 25 min to here from highway.

The snow field on Sky Pilot had this kind of 'in awe' expression with the open mouth but no eyes.

Summit selfie on Co-Pilot in the mist.

Looking back at Sky Pilot, so cool.

I stravassholed the entire day. This was the read out on top of co-pilot, it took another hour or so to get back down to the lodge where I double-fisted a coffee and a nice lager, which was yet another highlight, by then it had cleared and I could look out across the ocean scheming of other similar S2S missions. Erin even joined me for a sweet plate of french fries.

Bringing a fresh pair of your newest and cushiest socks for the descent down the trail is a real luxury and about as beaujolais as it gets. The other thing is tunes, pretty styly to cruise back down the trail listening to the grateful dead in your cushy socks.

What a great day, highly recommended for a good but not to long/hard day in the mountains. The super cool and complete traverse would take Al's Habrich trail and finish down Goat Ridge and into Murrin park...This would be pretty awesome but would take away the beer/coffee combo while looking out over the ocean and wondering what to watch on tv that night.